Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Encourages Farmers and Producers to Report Losses from Hurricane Irene
– Also Encourages Boards of Supervisors in Localities with Agricultural Damage to Work with Impacted Constituents on Reporting Process –
RICHMOND – Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd P. Haymore today encouraged farmers and producers in localities impacted by Hurricane Irene to report losses of their crops, livestock, and farming infrastructure in order to potentially qualify for federal government assistance. Secretary Haymore also encouraged boards of supervisors in localities with agricultural damage to work closely on the reporting process with their impacted constituents.
Speaking to the losses, Secretary Haymore said, "Having had the opportunity to visit four regions of the Commonwealth impacted by Hurricane Irene and reading crop reports from other localities, I know that a number of our farmers and producers have had their crops severely damaged. That's why reporting those losses as quickly and accurately as possible will potentially help farmers and producers obtain federal assistance many of them will need. In addition to negatively impacting a farming operation, the loss of farm income will affect the city or county in which the farm is located."
Preliminary reports estimate that agricultural losses in Virginia will reach at least $60 million, but that figure is expected to grow as more crop information is gathered. Corn, cotton, tobacco, and tomatoes appear to be the most impacted crops from Irene. All four crops were of above-average, good, or excellent quality and forecasted to produce higher yields from increased plantings in 2011 versus 2010 plantings and yield figures.
Haymore also added that localities play a key role in the process of requesting an agricultural disaster declaration from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Localities need to reach out to their agricultural community to determine the extent of the damage and be prepared to formally petition Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell for his assistance in having a locality designated as an agricultural disaster area by USDA.
The list of actions to take for having a locality designated as an agricultural disaster area is fairly short, but very important, as is timing. Growers, producers, and localities impacted by Hurricane Irene should be aware of the following:
- Contact their local Virginia Cooperative Extension agent as soon as possible. A list of Extension offices is available at http://www.ext.vt.edu/offices/index.html. Agents will assess damage and crop loss for each locality to determine if county-wide losses equal 30 percent or more. If they do, the county may be eligible for a disaster designation from the USDA Secretary. The Farm Service Agency (FSA) provides an aggregate report of localities with losses of more than 30 percent on a major crop and the Governor then requests a disaster designation from USDA. It can take a month or more for a Secretarial designation.
- Contact their local FSA office to learn of all disaster related programs. The office will guide farmers through the application process. A list of FSA county offices in Virginia is available at http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app?state=va&agency=fsa. Click on the map to select a region of the state, then on the individual county for contact information.
- A Secretarial designation makes low interest loans available and any supplemental relief that may be provided by Congress. See the FSA's website for additional information on disaster assistance programs: www.fsa.usda.gov/FSA/webapp?area=home&subject=diap&topic=landing.
- Localities that want to request a disaster declaration will find information on how to do so on the website of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services: http://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/news/d-designations.shtml.
"Hurricane Irene caused significant damage in Virginia," concluded Secretary Haymore, "and the farming community in the Northern Neck, Eastern Shore, Southeastern, and Southside regions were hit especially hard. I encourage those impacted by the hurricane to work with our federal and state partners on loss reporting. The McDonnell administration stands ready to assist them with their efforts to keep the state's agriculture industry and our farming localities strong and vibrant."
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